Saturday, August 30, 2008

Baby Turns 1!!

Last week on Thursday, the 21st of August...my baby turned 1!! It's amazing how fast time goes by and it seems like he was born only yesterday! We celebrated his birthday on Saturday with a cookout and cake with some friends. He was tired and cranky by the time we got to the cake, but he had fun crawling after all the kids. I love you Christian J.P.!!!!


I love that smile!




A tired Christian after eating cake.





French Toast Casserole.

I found such a yummy recipe for French Toast Casserole one day, that I had to make it for our Saturday Breakfast. Since I've been on a baking streak, I decided to make my own challah bread instead of buying one. The results? DELICIOUS!! I posted the recipes to both the bread and the casserole below. I hope you enjoy the pictures.


Baking the challah bread.



A beautiful, golden braid!



Preparing the casserole the night before.



The final product!!



French Toast Casserole

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 loaf challah, sliced 1 1/2" thick
8 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
pure maple syrup

1. Combine butter and sugar in bottom of baking dish in a nice, even layer.
2. Arrange bread slices on top, squeezing them into all the spaces
3. Whisk eggs and add all ingredients except pecans
4. Pour over bread
5. Top with pecans & cover with plastic wrap
6. Refrigerate 3-12 hours (can make the night before and leave overnight)
7. Set out at room temperature for 20 minutes
8. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, until lightly browned
9. Remove and serve with warm maple syrup

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Big Break.

It seems like a while since my last post, but computer problems and relocation had left me with only access to email. So now I'm back and I'll be posting all about the marvelous happenings at Holy Family Classical Academy!! Stay tuned for school updates, project completions, yummy recipes, and day to day stuff!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My Latest Find.

I don't remember where I heard about these neat little magazines that were written back in the 1950's by the Maryknoll Sisters, but I knew that they looked really nice. I did a little searching and to much delighted surprise...I found the complete volumes from 1-44!!!!



I immediately purchased the set and just recently received it. The magazines are in mint condition! The name of the magazine is Crusade: The Story of the Bible Retold for Catholic Children. It has beautiful illustrations and each issue covers stories from the bible. I'm planning on using it as a read aloud with the kids, maybe finishing one issue per month or so.



My biggest problem now is how to store them. I'm thinking of getting some binders to put them in since they are hole punched. I just want to be really careful with them, since they are over 50 years old. I'm honestly just in awe at the condition they are in! One of them still has the subscription envelope inside!


Monday, August 18, 2008

Yummy!

I haven't made fresh, homemade bread in the longest time. I even gave my bread machine away about a year ago because I never used it. But using a bread machine is like cheating to me. It's taking a shortcut and I know that bread from the oven tastes better than bread from a machine. At least that's my humble opinion.

So today I decided to take out my apron and make some homemade sandwich bread. The results? DELICIOUS!!! My hubby came home to a loaf baking in the oven. He might not admit it, but I think he misses the days when I was a baking queen. After a lip-smacking, good dinner, we all had a slice of warm bread with melted butter. The kids enjoyed adding jam to it and I drizzled a little bit of honey on mine. And as I looked over to hubby's face, I knew that I was the reigning queen once more. Heavenly!






Sunday, August 17, 2008

From Headaches to Playdates.

Today started off with a giant headache. I was a complete disaster and just the thought of getting through the day with the kids was painful. On top of my excruciating pain, Anthony was sick with a fever (for the second day in a row) and he was constantly in need of my attention. Unfortunately, I was manning the battle station alone since DH was off trying to make his own patients better.

Too bad that Tylenol never helps in times like this. With lots of prayer, I made it through the morning and early afternoon and I jumped for joy as soon as my man walked through the door. Not only was I happy to see him (he is my favorite person in the world!), but I was ecstatic to have some help arrive.

After putting Christian down for a nap, DH and Anthony took a little nap of their own. My poor little guy was still feeling sick and the thought of taking a nap with his dad made him the happiest he's been all weekend. Marco and Isabella then took advantage of not having their little brothers around and quickly decided to go hunt for treasure in the playroom. That left me. All alone. In silence. What's a girl to do? I decided the best thing was to lie down and rest. It was like an answered prayer. My headache was gone and I was feeling better.

Later in the early evening, I decided to take the kids to the playground with some friends for a picnic dinner. We hadn't left the house all weekend and the kids were excited all the way there. Anthony stayed behind napping with his dad since he was still sick.



Isabella swinging away.




Christian with his tongue out. What is it with this kid?




I love seeing him smile! Check out all the teeth!



Marco making a run for it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

On Our Reading List.

We'll be reading these books over the next 2 weeks as part of our scheduled school including Anthony's BFIAR selections. This list does not include free time reading books.























Thursday, August 14, 2008

SOTW.

We finished SOTW chapter 1 recently and so far, it's a hit! The narrations went well, Marco is interested, and the activities are fun for the kids. I'm trying to include all the kids while I read the book. Although Anthony is still too young to sit still, he is getting into the coloring pages and activities. Even better for me is that Marco tries to "teach" him the history lesson. He'll say something like, "Anthony...archaeologists had to dig in the earth to look for clues on what people did a long time ago." I love this because it is done with absolutely no prompting from my part!


Marco and Anthony searching for clues in the dirt.



Isabella working on her own digging.


I try to do as many hands on things with the kids as possible as well. It really keeps their interest up and they usually hold discussions between themselves about what they are doing. The kids did their digging in the dirt activity and they talked about what archeology is and what things they would want other people to know about them in the future. I also let Marco and Isabella use the sewing machine (only the foot pedal) to help make a game bag like the one described in the book. They then talked about what animals they would want to catch and put in the bag if they lived out in the wild.


Having fun with newly made game bags.

I feel like history is coming alive for them! During lunch, I've been playing the CD version of the book. It seems to be the only part they are still warming up to. I'm hoping that they'll be able to enjoy it a little more as they get used to it being part of our routine.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

School Stuff.

We are still chugging along with school, math and phonics being our main subjects. History is suddenly popular around here and the kids are enjoying all the crafts to go along with the lessons. We'll be incorporating the SOTW CD's shortly as well, and I'll be using them in the car or during quiet time for review purposes.

Our Olympic unit study is over and it was fun teaching the kids about all the sports, traditions, and symbols. The kids loved making crafts, but especially loved their torches. They had their own Olympic torch relay and they got to experience what happens during one from its beginning in Greece, to its final destination in the Olympics host city. We are also keeping a close eye on the US team to see how many medals are being won. All the information will be added to their lapbook, which is still a work in progress.


The kids showing off some of their Olympic crafts.


Anthony keeping himself busy while we studied our Olympic unit.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Too Much To Do!

Sometimes I wonder if I'll survive parenthood. I am up to my eyeballs in things to do! Lessons to be taught, projects to complete, meals to make...and don't get me started on housework! It's like having 3 full time jobs! And now to top it off, I am adding chauffeur and coach on top of it all.

A new season of activities is starting up and I'm starting to wonder if we really need all the extra chaos that accompanies sports and extra-curricular activities. I'm trying to stay calm and not panic, but here is the new list of stuff we are adding to our weekly routines.
  • Swimming (twice a week)
  • Piano (weekly)
  • T-ball (varies, from 2-4 times a week with games)
  • Faith formation (this is every Wednesday night)
  • Co-op (every Wednesday from morning to after lunch)
  • Ballet (weekly, but I'm considering dropping this)
Luckily, some of these things have an end...like T-ball. Other things, like co-op and faith formation, are not an option to change. The big thing for me is squeezing in as many kids as I can into any given activity.

All three kids will be in swimming together, so that's a big plus. T-ball will include the oldest two. Ballet is definitely a girly thing that I would much rather change to a gymnastics or karate class that can include the boys too, so I'm working on it. Piano is a one kid thing, but it is something that I refuse to take away.

There you have it. Now excuse me while I faint.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sometimes I Cry.

Today, I went around town with the kids. I had a couple of errands that couldn't wait until Friday, so I got the kids in the van and took care of business! Sometimes when I go somewhere, I'll see someone or something that just creates an emotional impact on me for whatever reason it may be.

As we were waiting in line for the cashier today, I saw an older woman with her grandchildren. She was buying them some toys and I could hear her talking to them about how they were going to spend the day together while their parents were out.

I immediately thought of my own parents, living 18 hours away, and how much they are missing out on. They don't get to see all the milestones that my children hit. They don't get to spend afternoons together. They don't get to show them baby pictures of when I was little or tell them stories of long ago. My kids are missing out on warm hugs and kisses, playing with my dad's beard, going out to breakfast, and just learning about all the wonderful things my parents have experienced in their lifetime. It makes me sad to to think that the last time they saw Christian, he was 3 months old. He'll be 1 year next week!!! I feel like my kids will never know their grandparents to the point I would want them to.

Grandparents don't live forever. That's what makes me sad.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Waiting for Science.

I have been patiently waiting for the new Angelicum lesson plans for our science text, HSP Science. If there is any complaint that I have about Angelicum so far, it is that they are a bit slow to respond to emails. And the fact that they still don't have their act together for new lessons is a bit annoying as well.

In the mean time, I decided to start a new unit study with the kids about animals. I decided to go with Evan Moor materials this time since all I have to do is print out the worksheets to go with our unit. Since we will eventually be using a science text, I really just want to cover the basics for the time being.

Here is a list of what we'll be doing.
  • Animals are everywhere.
  • Living/Non-living.
  • Shapes, sizes, and colors of different animals.
  • Animal homes.
  • Animal classification.
I think this will be enough on the animal kingdom since we've been studying and reading about animals all summer. This will also be an easy enough unit for Anthony to follow along in. Simple and fun!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Just So Anthony.

Tonight I found myself scrapping for dinner. I have yet to go grocery shopping! On the menu was grilled chicken breasts and hamburgers. Side dishes included broccoli and fruit salad.

As I'm serving the kids, I ask Anthony, "Honey, would you like to have chicken or a hamburger."

Anthony sits at the table, looks up, and in his most concentrated look and says, "Ummmmmm. I want a hot dog."

I reply, "We only have chicken and hamburgers. Pick one."

Anthony looks up again and puts his finger to his mouth and says, "Ummmmmm. Ok. I'll have a hot dog."

That's my Anthony!

More Cloth Diaper News.

Thanks to the encouragement I have been receiving on the use of cloth diapers, I decided not to give up using cloth diapers. I did go through some rough times with the swishing and washing; but I have made a great new discovery that has revolutionized my thoughts on cloth diapering. The DryBees All in One Diaper!!!

These diapers are awesome! Nice and soft, and easy to put on! I also purchased a disposable liner and now I've said "goodbye" to swishing! Putting on this diaper is exactly like putting on a disposable. Although the initial purchase for the diaper can be a little high (I paid $19 for each diaper), in the end you still end up saving. But more important than saving money, you are helping create a better environment for the future of your children.

I am still using disposables at night and when we go out. But other than that it has been all cloth diapers at home and on short errands! There really was hope for me after all!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

History, Science, Reading, and More. An Update.

These past few weeks, we have been chugging along with school work. It has been extremely busy but I am very excited and happy in my role! I thought I would post a quick update on all that we are doing.

Math: We are still working on some math from Saxon 1. I decided to review more facts and go over a few things before starting Saxon 2. It is going extremely well and we are actually enjoying our lessons together! We also just started Saxon 1 with Isabella and I'm starting to get the hang of teaching 2 different math lessons concurrently.

Phonics: SSRW is GREAT!!! We love it around here. Marco's reading has improved and he is becoming more fluent. The readers from the program are the best! They are long and offer great stories and pictures. I especially like that they are not short because it has helped Marco keep his attention for longer periods of time. Isabella is also doing well with her blending and just finished the ferris wheel section of the program. The prizes are definitely an incentive, but I stopped giving them away on a daily basis.

History: This has been a little slow to start. We are currently doing Chapter 1 of SOTW. We covered creation, but have failed to do a fun project to go along with it. I am amazed that Marco is retaining the information being read to him. Narrations start today and I am using some great notebooking pages from Notebookingpages.com. We'll see how our projects turn out at the end of the week!

Cartography: By far the shortest lessons ever! National Geographic is wonderful and I like that the lessons are short and simple. We do this every Monday and the lesson takes about 10-15 minutes. Super easy and they are learning all about maps.

Science: The thorn in my side! I'm waiting on the updated lesson plans for science from Angelicum. They recently updated them, so we have been without a science curriculum for a while now. We are reading some books about animals, however, and that is filling in the gap. DH has also been teaching the kids all about cells, clotting, and other medical-type stuff. They look at videos and pictures from his books. They should be little doctors by the end of the year!

Reading: We are following along with some history books to accompany SOTW. We also just started Wind in the Willows for our "good books" selection.

Unit Studies: The Olympics!! This week we'll be working on an Olympic Lapbook and learning all about the Olympics and its sports. We'll be having our own Olympic competition with friends as well.

Religion: Just going along lesson by lesson. The kids seem to mellow out when we do religion and I really like that. They'll be starting their Faith Formation classes next month as well, so I think they'll be more prepared than ever.

Shurley Grammar: I postponed doing this for a while because I wanted Marco to advance with reading a little more. Currently we are going to start with Chapter 2 of the book. Chapter 1 consisted of classifying things into groups...something that I think he has gotten plenty of and understands, so we are skipping it.

Seems like lots, huh? It really has gone by really well and I'm loving the fact that we are learning so much more than just math and phonics. It really is an exciting time!!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Centers.

I finally found a new spot for our centers! I originally had them on our flip chart, but I kept finding that it was more of a nuisance than a help. Having them there created such a big struggle with always trying to keep Anthony from taking them down. Now they are nicely hanging on a wall away from little hands. This gives me so much more control over who is going to be using what.

I really do like having these "take to your seat" activities available. It gives the kids something to do when they are waiting for their next lesson to begin. Lately, I tend to use them more for Isabella since Marco is requiring more one-on-one time. It keeps her busy and occupied without being bored. I explain to her what she needs to do and she can complete it independently.

Here are some of our centers. Shown are a number matching game, word family game, alphabet order game, counting by 10's & number order game, and vowels game.


Centers basically consist of file folder games and take to your seat activities. They allow the kids to learn and review a wide selection of skills and subjects. Since my kids are younger, the majority of my centers consist of math and reading. The grade range is mostly from pre-k to 2nd grade, but you can make centers for any age. Everything from learning the alphabet, number recognition, rhymes, colors & shapes, basic math skills, and word building are in my centers!

Most of my materials are made from using Evan-Moor products. They have GREAT resources! I recently also purchased some ready-made phonics file folder games from Carson-Dellosa. Centers are easy to make (although can be time consuming) with minimal supplies. All you need are:
  • Printer
  • Cardstock paper
  • Velcro
  • Laminator (highly recommended if you want your materials to last)
  • File folders, bags, manila envelopes (depends on what kind of center you are doing)
  • Scissors
  • Double sided tape
The good thing is that are plenty of free resources on the web to get you started. Some are better than others, but they all offer great ideas and plenty of freebies! Here are a few.

These are all great sites to get anyone started with centers!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Summer Olympics 2008.

I was watching a segment on TV about the summer Olympics, when Marco asked me, "What are the Olympics?" I tried to explain to him the basic concept and he kind of nodded and went on his way. I've been thinking about it and I've made the decision to do a little unit study on the Olympics. After all, they represent a unification of all cultures through sport. And even though the are underway, we'll learn as we watch our favorites on TV. It'll be way cool!

After doing a bit of research, I came up with the following websites that offer some fun and educational Olympic activities. It is always a challenge to find something that is appropriate for the lower grammar levels. I'm planning on picking and choosing from these different sites to make my own study. Perhaps we'll wrap it all up by making a lapbook and hosting our version of the Olympic games using activities suggested from first-school.

2008 Summer Olympic Games: offers printables on individual sports.
The Official Mascots of the Beijing 2008 Olympics: super cute and perfect to decorate a lapbook!
Learning Page: offers some nice worksheet with the Olympic theme.
Summer Olympics 2008 Unit Study: this is a free unit study with lapbook templates and activities correlating to several subjects.
The Olympics Games: a great resource from Enchanted Learning. Offers everything from flags, history, activities, and crafts.
Discovery Education Streaming: this is a great resource and I plan on using it to watch some video segments with the kids.

There are plenty more sites out there, but I always get overwhelmed with the multitude of websites to visit. I don't want to inundate anyone so I'm keeping it nice and simple. We'll start our unit on Monday and I'll be spending the weekend getting ready for it.

My main objectives for the unit will be:
  • What are the Olympics?
  • Why do we have them?
  • How are they important?
  • What is the history behind them (brief)?
  • What sports are played?
I really don't want to get sidetracked into the study of China, so I'm keeping that to a minimum (we don't have that much time!). We'll also be taking a field trip to the library and seeing what Olympic books are available. With this being all last minute, I don't expect to find the greatest selection.